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Copy of a Pilaster

  • Place of origin:

    Madrid (Copy, made)
    Madrid (Original, made)

  • Date:

    1926 (made)
    ca. 117-1200 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.A.1926-12

  • Gallery location:

    Cast Courts, The Ruddock Family Cast Court, Room 46A, case WW

The original capital and pilaster are from the chamber that held the treasures and relics of the Cathedral of Oviedo in northern Spain. The capital is carved with a depiction of the Three Marys at Christ’s tomb, and the pillar with figures of St Peter and St Paul. These casts reproduce the linear forms of the drapery and elongated faces and figures that are typical of the spare and powerful architectural sculpture found in Spain in the late 12th century.

Physical description

Plaster cast of a pilaster with the figures of St Peter and Paul, in the Camara Santa at Oviedo.

Place of Origin

Madrid (Copy, made)
Madrid (Original, made)

Date

1926 (made)
ca. 117-1200 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Painted plaster cast

Dimensions

Width: 59 cm base

Object history note

Cast of a pilaster depicting the figures of St Peter and St Paul, made in Madrid in 1926 and acquired in exchange from the Museo de Reproducciones Artisticus, Madrid in 1926. The original was made by an unknown artist in stone in Madrid about 1175-1200. The capital is from the Camara Santa at Oviedo.

Historical context note

Making plaster copies is a centuries-old tradition that reached the height of its popularity during the 19th century. The V&A's casts are of large-scale architectural and sculptural works as well as small scale, jewelled book covers and ivory plaques, these last known as fictile ivories.

The Museum commissioned casts directly from makers and acquired others in exchange. Oronzio Lelli, of Florence was a key overseas supplier while, in London, Giovanni Franchi and Domenico Brucciani upheld a strong Italian tradition as highly-skilled mould-makers, or formatori.

Some casts are highly accurate depictions of original works, whilst others are more selective, replicating the outer surface of the original work, rather than its whole structure. Like a photograph, they record the moment the cast was taken: alterations, repairs and the wear and tear of age are all reproduced in the copies. The plasters can also be re-worked, so that their appearance differs slightly from the original from which they were taken.

To make a plaster cast, a negative mould has to be taken of the original object. The initial mould could be made from one of several ways. A flexible mould could be made by mixing wax with gutta-percha, a rubbery latex product taken from tropical trees. These two substances formed a mould that had a slightly elastic quality, so that it could easily be removed from the original object. Moulds were also made from gelatine, plaster or clay, and could then be used to create a plaster mould to use for casting.
When mixed with water, plaster can be poured into a prepared mould, allowed to set, and can be removed to produce a finished solid form. The moulds are coated with a separating or paring agent to prevent the newly poured plaster sticking to them. The smooth liquid state and slight expansion while setting allowed the quick drying plaster to infill even the most intricate contours of a mould.
Flatter, smaller objects in low relief usually require only one mould to cast the object. For more complex objects, with a raised surface, the mould would have to be made from a number of sections, known as piece-moulds. These pieces are held together in the so-called mother-mould, in order to create a mould of the whole object. Once the object has been cast from this mother-mould, the piece-moulds can be easily removed one by one, to create a cast of the three-dimensional object.

Descriptive line

Plaster cast of a pilaster with the figrues of St Peter and St Paul, made in Madrid, 1926. The original was made in about 1175-1200.

Labels and date

2. Cast of
Unknown artist
Capital and Pilaster
About 1175–1200

The original capital and pilaster are from the chamber that held the treasures and relics of the Cathedral of Oviedo in northern Spain. The capital is carved with a depiction of the Three Marys at Christ’s tomb, and the pillar with figures of St Peter and St Paul. These casts reproduce the linear forms of the drapery and elongated faces and figures that are typical of the spare and powerful architectural sculpture found in Spain in the late 12th century.

Casts
1926
Painted plaster
Madrid, Spain
Acquired by exchange from the Museo de Reproducciones, Madrid in 1926
Museum nos. Repro.A.1926-10 & 12

Originals
Carved stone
Madrid
Cámara Santa, Oviedo [04/07/2018]
This is a plaster cast from the Cámara Santa, or Holy Chamber, originally founded in the 9th century to house treasures and relics of the Cathedral of Oviedo in Northern Spain. The linear forms of the drapery and elongated faces and figures are typical of the spare and powerful architectural sculpture carved in Spain in the late 12th century. This one of a number of casts were acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum from the Museum of Reproductions in Madrid in exchange for plasters of details from the V&A’s Pórtico de la Gloria, from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. These relatively late acquisitions of plaster reproductions for South Kensington show that there was still an active interest in acquiring and collecting plaster casts as late as the mid-1920s.

Holly Trusted []

Materials

Plaster; Paint

Techniques

Casting; Painting

Subjects depicted

Figures (representations); Pillars

Categories

Sculpture; Architecture; Christianity; Plaster Cast; Copies; Cast Courts

Production Type

Copy

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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